Orlando Pirates have announced the signing of Ghanaian international goalkeeper Richard Ofori from Maritzburg United.
The highly-rated keeper had signed a one-year contract extension in January but Pirates have finally managed to pry him loose from the KwaZulu-Natal side ending many months of rumours as well as links to champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs.
“After many months of speculation wherein Orlando Pirates were linked to a wide assortment of talented shot-stoppers‚ most notably Maritzburg United’s Richard Ofori‚ the club can finally confirm the signing of the Ghanaian international‚” Pirates’ statement read.
“The 26-year-old has signed with the Buccaneers after agreeing terms to a three-year deal.
“… Ofori joined Maritzburg United in 2018 and went on to record 64 appearances in all competitions including nine for the Ghanaian national team.
Ofori was quoted as saying: “I am very happy to be here. It is a dream for me to be a part of this exciting squad and to work with the technical team.
“I also look forward to meeting my new teammates and being part of this exciting new project.”
Ofori will compete for a starting position between the posts with first choice Wayne Sandilands as well Siyabonga Mpontshane. He arrives at Pirates a week after French goalkeeper Joris Delle also left the club after struggling to command a starting place.
“It feels so good [signing for Pirates] because they are like one of the biggest teams in the world,” Ofori said.
“So to sign for them I feel very excited and it’s like a dream come true because every player wants to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“I feel happy, good and at home because I feel like I have been playing with them for a while so to be finally here I feel very good.”
Ofori admitted his interest in Pirates was stirred by his compatriot Fatau Dauda, a former Buccaneers keeper during the 2013/14 season.
“In 2017 we went to Afcon and then we were talking about the team. He was saying Pirates are a very good team, they are a good family,” he said.
“Whenever we were talking about it, I got excited. That time in 2017 I wasn’t even playing here. Then I said ‘so this team is a very big team and the way Fatau is talking about it.’ I felt like one day I can play for this team. So to be here at this moment, I feel very excited.”
Ofori will be reunited with Fadlu Davids, the man who first brought him to South Africa when he signed him at Maritzburg. Davids is currently an assistant to Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer and he clearly used his previous relationship with Ofori to lure the goalkeeper to the Buccaneers.
“He [Davids] is a father to me because he brought me here, he signed me at Maritzburg United and then now he said I want to work with you again, can you come,” said Ofori.
“That was the time when they were thinking that maybe I wanted to join Mamelodi Sundowns, so he called me and said come. So I came, he is a father to me, he is a very good man. I’m very happy to meet him again.”
Long regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the South African league, Ofori had a brilliant 2019/20 season where he kept 11 clean sheets from 28 league matches. Only Pirates shot-stopper Wayne Sandilands and SuperSport United captain Ronwen Williams had more clean sheets with 12 and 13 clean sheets respectively. He has 19 international caps for the Black Stars of Ghana.
He joins a list of recent big-name signings made by Zinnbauer ahead of the new season including Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Deon Hotto and Thabang Monare.
Maritzburg United have moved swiftly to replace Ofori, signing 28 year old Zambian international goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange. Mwange joined the Team of Choice from Zambian Super League side Green Eagles.
He was in goal for Zambia’s Chipolopolo when they beat the Bafana Bafana 2-1 in an international friendly match just over a week ago in Rustenburg.
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